Post success depression: why does it happen?

In this blog we will discuss why post success depression occurs.

We will also discuss how you can cope with post success depression. 

Post success depression: why does it happen?

Some of the main reasons as to what causes post success depression include:

  • Emotionally wearing competition
  • Over working and burnout
  • New unprecedented challenges
  • Identity crisis
  • Changes in values
  • Incompatibility with the industry

According to Alice G. Walton for Forbes magazine, some of the main reasons as to why post success depression tend to occur is because of how emotionally wearing competition is.

Other reasons include over working, burnout, new challenges that they are not emotionally ready to deal with that brings about self doubt and fears. 

It is also possible that in their journey towards success, people also tend to lose their own identity, their values, as well as the possibility that their industry is not compatible with their personality which can wear them down.

Emotionally wearing competition

It has to be mentioned that in any success story, there is intense competition that people are up against. 

Most highly successful people tend to be aware of their competition and there is a constant looking over their shoulder and comparing themselves to their competitors because of which they are highly susceptible to depression. 

This constant question of one’s abilities, and the uncertainty of their possible success in life is often emotionally wearing and it can lead to complete emotional exhaustion and anxiety. 

They tend to habitually measure their self-worth by comparing themselves to others who are more successful than them and by always looking at the grass on the other side, they tend to be present and grateful for their own present which can lead to unhappy lives. 

Over working and burnout

When it comes to extremely successful people, their lifestyle is one that is growing because to be successful, they need to put in extra hours of work and extra effort. 

This can often lead them to become workaholics and lead to a life that feels precipitous and lonely. This can lead to a disconnect – from simple things in life like spending time with loved ones, eating a cone of ice cream, and doing what makes you happy.

Identity crisis

It is also possible that extreme success and extreme wealth, especially when it comes very suddenly, can leave people questioning their own identity. 

Success can change the way you are perceived, it can change the place you live, and the people you associate yourself with- and all of this can leave people conflicted, unsure about how to identify themselves. This identity crisis can lead one to develop anxiety as well as confusion and depression. 

New unprecedented challenges

When people have reached the top and have achieved success in life, they often find themselves in uncharted territory, where they are in a completely new social situation. 

They might not be able to deal with the stress of being part of such a social group, they might have troubles dealing with prejudice, judgement, loss of support etc and this can be very isolating which can cause distress as well as depression. 

Incompatibility with the industry

Another interesting possibility that could impact an individual well-being in the professional sphere is one’s incompatibility with the industry that they are part of. 

It is possible that once you have achieved success you are unhappy because the kind of environment that you have stepped into is something that does not align with your own beliefs and values. 

This can lead one to become dissatisfied and battle with moral and ethical views of leading one’s own life- and this can lead to mental distress and eventually depression. 

How to cope with post success depression?

According to writers at Transition Your Life, Here are some ways you can cope and overcome post success depression:

Celebrate and rest

First, what you can do after you have achieved your goals is to celebrate the success of the goal or at the least the fact that you have reached the finish line. 

Celebrate the effort you have made, the achievements you have gained and how much you have learned. 

Now, after you celebrate- go out with friends, go on vacation, throw a party, go on a tour etc- take time to rest. 

Let this time of rest be focused on self care and self love- let it be about you and only you. 

It is okay to allow yourself to let yourself go for a few days but making the effort to stick to routine and structure in your day to day life can help you move forward. 

Allow yourself to feel loved by people who genuinely care for you and seek out new meaning from these positive and healthy relationships. 

You can choose to make new changes that help you feel better or healthier like going to the gym, changing your diet to a more healthy one, going for wants. Sometimes change in routines can also be your way of caring for yourself. 

Accept the uncertainty

Getting comfortable with the uncertainty of human existence by accepting the way you feel and the fact that not everything has a definite answer is one of the first steps you can take to deal with this feeling of existential dread. 

The moment you start acknowledging it to be part of your experiences the easier it becomes to accept it. 

Acceptance can help you be less judgemental over yourself about why you might be feeling sad. Instead of beating yourself up for yourself, you can look at the various choices you can make to feel better by taking the time to assess your symptoms and come to grips with it.

Reaffirm values or seek out new set of values 

By taking the time to explore your life and surroundings, to uncover a new set of values that is authentic to yourself. 

This means re-evaluating self beliefs you had about yourself and the world. It may even require you to unlearn some beliefs and re-learn new beliefs that are realistic and compassionate to your limitations as a human being. 

This will involve mindful attention to your thoughts and your beliefs in regards to everyone around you, the world and its systems, and yourself. 

Go out and Actively seek positive experiences

According to positive psychology research, positive feelings are an important aspect of well-being. 

For a person to engage in activities and other experiences that help them feel positive feelings such as love, belongingness, achievement, and a sense of hope is important.

Even if you do not want to, even if your body is refusing to- take that chance for yourself and choose to do something that makes you feel less miserable. 

Plan a new goal

Give yourself time to plan a new goal, ask yourself what comes next for you and what ideas you would like to explore. 

Let your new goal be based on your new values and beliefs that you have developed over the course of the new goal. 

Take some time to work out the what’s, the whys, and the hows- and envision how you might build on the success you’ve already achieved. 

Develop a Support System

If you are struggling with depression, you will also want to develop a strong support system or have at least one person you can rely on for support. 

You might benefit from joining a support group specifically for depression and/or anger. In support groups, you’re likely to find yourself spending time with people who completely understand your situation.

In addition, if you join a group with a facilitator, you may find that you are offered helpful strategies to better manage your depression and anger. 


Seeking professional help to manage and learn more about your situation can be the best thing you can do for yourself and your journey  of recovering from depression. 

If you are already in therapy, talking to your therapist about your feelings and the confusion you feel and the times that this lack of grounding has hurt you and others can be a good place to start. 

Your therapist can help you learn strategies on how to deal with your emotions and also help you make lifestyle changes on how to manage them more effectively.

Therapy techniques such as Cognitive behaviour therapy or Emotion focused therapy could be some practices that you can try or even engaging in direct anger management workshops or group therapies can also be effective. 


In this blog we have discussed why post success depression occurs. We have also discussed how you can cope with post success depression. 

FAQ related to post success depression

Are successful people more prone to depression?

Yes,  successful people are more prone to depression. This could be for various reasons. According to Alice G. Walton for Forbes magazine, some of the main reasons as to why post success depression tends to occur is because of how emotionally wearing competition is.

Other reasons include over working, burnout, new challenges that they are not emotionally ready to deal with that brings about self doubt and fears. 

Does being rich cause depression?

Being rich does not directly cause depression rather it is the consequences of being rich that can lead to depression. 

For example, being rich can change the way you are perceived, it can change the place you live, and the people you associate yourself with. At times it is possible that your relationships tend to be shallow etc, which can leave you feeling isolated leading to depression. 

Can people with anxiety succeed?

Yes, people with mental disorders like anxiety can succeed in life provided that they get the help they need and are consistent with treatment and positively coping with their condition. 


Sarah Anderson. Feeling depressed after reaching a big goal? Here’s why. Deseret News. Retrieved on 24th April 2022.

Alice G. Walton. Why The Super-Successful Get Depressed. Forbes. Retrieved on 24th April 2022.

Now You’re Done: Post-goal depression. Transition Your life, Retrieved on 19th April 2022.

 Kristin Wong. Now What? How to Cope With “Post-goal Depression”. Putty Like. Retrieved on 19th April 2022.

 LEAH LAMB. How To Deal With Post-Creation Depression. Fast Company. Retrieved on 19th April 2022.